Two Judgments-One Soul

One of the new happenings at Assumption that I forgot to mention in last week’s
bulletin is the young adult group. We had our first social event a couple weeks ago,
and then our first Bible study last week. What a great group! They are good, fun, and
smart people. At Bible study, we discussed today’s readings for over an hour. They
had tremendous insights and questions about the themes of the readings: death,
judgement, and life after death. I think we’re all really excited about this group!

Every November, as we come to the end of the liturgical year, the Church gives us
readings that focus on the end of time (“eschaton”). The adult group didn’t think that
we are in the end times, but lamented that there are many who do think that. Jesus
says in today’s Gospel that He doesn’t even know when the end will be!

Regarding what we will face when we die, the Church teaches of two judgments: 1) a
particular judgment, and 2) a general judgment. The first is when we each die…when
our “time is up”. The second is the end of the world… when time itself ends.

These two judgments are summed up pretty well by

Particular: “As Catholics, we believe that when a person dies, the soul separates from
the body. He then stands before God in judgment. Remember that the soul is really
‘who’ we are: while the body lies in death, our soul– who we are– lives on and returns
to the Lord for judgment. The Catechism clearly teaches, ‘Each man receives his
eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular
judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of Heaven–
through purification or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation’

Let’s dissect this teaching: When we die, our soul stands in judgment immediately.
We will have to account for our lives, for the good that we have done and for the sins
we have committed. We call this the particular judgment because it is particular to
each person…

General: At the end of time, our Lord will come again to judge the living and the
dead… Here again the Catechism teaches, ‘In the presence of Christ, who is Truth
itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last
Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done
or failed to do during his earthly life’ (#1039). Here is a judgment not only of the
individual standing alone, but also as a member of society and before the whole
community of mankind. Those who have already died and have been judged will
remain in Heaven or Hell; those who have not died will now be judged and enter
Heaven or Hell.

…Whether we consider the particular judgment or the final judgment, we must be
ready to face judgment. Archbishop Fulton Sheen stated, ‘For when the curtain
goes down on the last day, and we respond to the curtain call of judgment, we will not
be asked what part we played, but how well we played the part that was assigned to
us’ (Moods and Truths, 75).

Finally, a solid answer to the question that some have as to why there can be a general
judgment and a particular judgment, is given at

“The purpose of the general judgment is not to re-determine one’s standing with God
but to reveal the full ramifications of all our good and bad deeds in relation to other
people. Although we will know instantly all the good and the bad we have done at our
particular judgment, only at the general judgment will we see what effect the way we
lived had on others and thus truly understand the ultimate significance of our moral
–Sincerely in Christ,
Fr Greg